#ArtThursdays: Darren Coffield Black Rain @ Thames-Side Studios Gallery
This #ArtThursday's installment was held close by at the Thames Side Studios.
Darren Coffield's solo exhibition Black Rain features a group of works which began with the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Upon entering the space during the private view, the stark contrast of the paintings against the white walls of the gallery were mesmerising...
At the time of Princess Di's death, Coffield was struck by all of the emotions of public expression, such as of grief, mass hysteria and classical themes that echoed through the news channels, as the Princess, named after the ancient goddess Diana ‘The Huntress’, became the hunted.
There is something to be said for extraordinary public delusions and the madness of crowds but when I made the first drawing, I had no idea that it would lead to a series of works executed over a 25-year period.
The faceless family portraits may seem unfamiliar to people that do not follow the lives of royalty but seeing the accuracy of the paintings depicted from the photographs that were on show next to the portraits was impressive. Just through the use of two colours; the paint and the white background of the canvas created a endearing picture that invited you to look closer into the faces that had no features.
If history is happening all around us and we are living through it, who decides how it is recorded and represented? People in power often use photography to ape classical paintings to project their status; pedigree and propaganda.
The British press often portrays the doomed marriage as the plucky princess taking on the might of the British Establishment, after all, it’s a classic David and Goliath story except that in Diana’s case, Goliath won.
As well as dealing with classical themes, the artworks also mirror what was happening in the wider world during the 25 years in which they were created. When I began the series mobile phones were a rarity and all the images were projected on tiny 35 mm slides. After the millennium, came the rise of the internet, with its search engines and conspiracy theories feeding into the works.
But it wasn’t until my second decade of working on the series and the election of President Trump denouncing ‘Fake News’ that I realised I had been dealing with it for years, except that in my profession we call it art history. - Darren Coffield, November 2022
If royalism wasn't your theme, on the opposite side of the gallery, there was a series of paintings and sculptures that reminded us of the cubism era of artworks.
Whist some echoed the same tones of black, white and grey, the pieces that were splashed with bold blocks colours were a nice vibrant touch to the exhibition.